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Rage: An Alex Delaware Novel    by Jonathan Kellerman order for
by Jonathan Kellerman
Order:  USA  Can
Ballantine, 2005 (2005)
Hardcover, Audio, CD, e-Book

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* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

As this story opens, psychologist Alex Delaware gets a call from a murderer. Rand Duchay wants to meet Alex, after eight years of juvenile detention for the abduction and killing of two-year-old Kristal Malley. Rand closes with, 'I'm not a bad person.' Soon afterwards he's dead, and Alex is drawn into the investigation along with his friend, maverick cop Milo Sturgis.

We're introduced to the players in Kristal's death via flashbacks. Alex was hired by the judge as a psychological consultant to assess the two 13-year-old killers - mentally challenged Rand, and Troy, a cold, young psycho. They were both tried as juveniles and committed to the California Youth Authority. Troy was murdered in jail soon afterwards. As Alex and Milo dig into Rand's death, they uncover a tangled set of relationships amongst the original players - Kristal's father, both defense lawyers, theology students Cherish and Drew Daney - and a surprising number of deaths of people connected to the case. The Daneys acted as 'spritual advisors' to the young killers at the time of their arrest, and now foster a group of adolescents. Rand stayed with them after his release. Milo and Alex suspect Kristal's father Barnett of Rand's murder, driven by rage over his daughter's death and his wife's subsequent suicide.

What I enjoy most about this series is its strong dialog, in particular the ongoing, easy banter between Milo and Alex. Essentially, Kellerman invites the reader to work out all the details, sitting alongside Alex and Milo as they munch donuts and muse about the case. We also see how the investigation intersects with, and influences Alex's romantic life, and hear the psychologist's explanation of how he balances his professional code of ethics with the kind of deception involved in working with Milo. Though Rage is not one of the best in the series (the momentum gets lost in the details and the ending is a bit flat), Alex and Milo always offer a thoughtful, engaging read, with surprising twists along the way.

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